Ratna Roy, a labourer from West Bengal had toiled hard under the rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGA to earn her promised daily bread. But her efforts were in vain as the administration of Cooch Behar, West Bengal did not pay her wages for one and a half years. Just like Ratna there were 250 workers in the Khagrabari panchayat of Cooch Behar district who had not received their wages and yet were pressurized to work. “They were pressing us to work, saying that this time we will get money but we didn’t work till our dues were cleared,” recalls Ratna.
Video Volunteers correspondent from West Bengal, Bikash Barman identified the issue in October last year and decided to take up the cause to help these 250 workers, who had no idea about whom to turn to for help. “I made a video of the problem, documenting the anguish of the workers, creating a viable document which would help in preparing a proper case in front of the administration” said Barman.
Barman approached the issue by first educating them about their rights under the MGNREGA scheme. Armed with the video and other proofs, Barman then approached the Panchayat Head and Superintendent, notifying them about the overlook. Kajal Dey, the Panchayat head stated that “In 2014 work worth almost Rs 5,10,00 was done.” The payment was released swiftly thereafter.
The payments have brought a fresh lease of life for the labourers who were debt-ridden. “It feels good to get my wages. I’ve paid off loans of the shops and resumed work,” says Shamola, a worker who received her wages. Bikash Burman’s dedication to bring about a change in the society and helping the community has helped 250 workers get wages that are rightfully theirs. The power of citizen journalism has once again helped a community in India.
This video was made by Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Bikash Burman from West Bengal